LAKEVIEW — The halls of Lakeview High School are alive with the sound of music, thanks to a grant from the Fender Music Foundation.
The foundation, located in Agoura Hills, Calif., provides guitars and basses to four Michigan school programs each year.
Lakeview was chosen to receive one of this year’s grants thanks to the efforts of music teacher Dean Gilbert, who handled the application process early in the school year.
At Monday’s regular Board of Education meeting, some of Gilbert’s students gave a demonstration of their recently-acquired six-string skills.
“When I got hired 26 years ago, there were maybe 10 guitars laying around and they’d just been put aside,” Gilbert said. “I decided to put together a guitar class.”
Over time, additional guitars were either donated to or acquired by the school and the guitar program grew. With the addition of the Fender grant, the school now has 22 guitars, which allows as many as 30 students to take part in the program.
“Most of the kids are just beginning,” Gilbert said. “But a few come into it with a little guitar knowledge. This is probably one of the best classes we offer in the school, because this is something they’ll use the rest of their lives.”
Interest in the guitar program has been very steady over the years, Gilbert added, and many of his students continue to play years after leaving high school. Part of the reason for this is Gilbert’s teaching method, which includes encouraging the students to take the initiative and improve at their own rate.
“I just give them enough knowledge so the they can learn on their own,” Gilbert said. “I’m not going to be with them throughout the summer to hold their hands. My job is to guide them through the basics and teach them how to learn on their own once we get them started.”
In addition to the guitars, the foundation also provided guitar straps, tuners, extra sets of strings and even instructional DVDs.
“I owe Fender a big thank you,” Gilbert said.
Students from the guitar program recently performed live at Kelsey Hospital’s extended care unit. The only problem with that “gig,” Gilbert said, is that the audience didn’t want the performers to stop playing.
In other matters …
The Lakeview school board also:
1: Board members officially thanked the Lakeview Area Community Foundation for supporting graduating seniors with scholarships totaling $9,600.
2: Four teacher layoffs were approved, effective June 12. Laid off were social studies teacher Dan Willison, kindergarten teacher Marsha Gregory, social studies teacher Anna Gilbert, and Title One teacher Jessica Orr. Several paraprofessionals and playground monitors also were let go.
3: The board recognized retiring teacher Greg Oshnock, clerical assistant Jim Andresen and paraprofessional Robin McCoy.
4: Superintendent Kyle Hamlin addressed the board, saying that the search for a new speech and language pathologist to replace outgoing Nichole Straub was under way and that at least one potential candidate was being considered.
5: The board awarded plaques honoring several Lakeview teachers who have served with the school system for from eight to 39 years.